NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) —You may have noticed the water in the Chesapeake Bay and other areas like the Lafayette and York Rivers seem to have big patches of burgundy in them.
Chris Moore, a senior scientist with the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, says that color is known as algae bloom.
“What we’re seeing is a harmful algal bloom. There’s a couple of different species that tend to make up these algal blooms. You kind of see the water looks, reddish almost mahogany tent,” said Moore.
Moore says these blooms tend to pop up in late summer with the warm water and increased rain.
And while he says it’s not proven to be directly harmful to people even though it stinks, it is bad for our sea life.
“They tend to negatively affect our fish and shellfish species. They can erode the gills of oysters and things like that in a lot of cases our fish will leave and swim out of it and oysters will shut down for a couple of weeks”
Moore says another concern with blooms this intense is what happens when they die.
“As they start to die, they’ll sink to the bottom and decomposition uses all the oxygen in the water column and we end up with fish kills and shellfish kills,” explained Moore.
It’s a problem he says can be kept at bay if the community does its part.
“If you’re a homeowner, make sure you do a soil test before you do anything with your lawn; plant rain gardens in order to help soak up some of those nutrients before they hit your stormwater system,” said Moore.
He says if things don’t change, the blooms will only get worse to the point of losing our shellfish population.